The diet industry has become a strong, large and incredibly lucrative business due in large part to the insatiable desire for thinness in our society. A new diet is like a new beginning. It's a virtuous way to find a path towards health and wellness. All our daily ills supposedly wash away from the newest diet.
Just as importantly diets never work. Any one person can choose to start string of diets that end and start anew. The industry has a revolving door of repeat customers ready for the newest health fad. And the fact that diets never work is something the public refuses to acknowledge despite easily accessible and conclusive proof.
Instead food choice and the ultimate goal of weight loss remain the holy grail of adult life. The diet industry plays off of this desire and encourages us all to conflate diets with self-care. It's an insidious way to capitalize on the general human ennui and create meaning out of nothing, for food in the end is just sustenance and choosing one meal over another on any given day creates no more virtue or success in anyone's life.
The first step in avoiding diets is to recognize this reality. We are not defined by what we eat, and changing a diet temporarily signifies nothing. That's a difficult step for many people so two other steps are often more realistic to be able to shift away from overvaluing dieting.
First, the goal of eating needs to change from dieting to eating a variety of real food. Our current world offers a mixture of processed and real foods, and realistically we will all eat what we find tasty and easy to prepare or buy. The ability to be flexible when eating while allowing pleasure, convenience and reason to dictate daily decisions is the key to normal eating.
The second step is to resist the urge to look for meaning in food. It's very tempting based on the power of the diet industry and the large number of people who ascribe to this philosophy, but meaning in life is largely centered on other facets of the human existence: relationships, career, family or kindness to others. Food and diet contribute nothing to our well being other than the nourishment and pleasure that comes from daily meals.
It takes energy to resist the pull of the diet culture. Attention to the details of what we eat won't change our lives. It's within our grasp to disempower the choice of food and instead look for real value in other parts of our lives.